Reggie Love knows how to put the body in “bodyman.”
In a memoir due out in early February, Love recounts his years working for Barack Obama – in the Senate, on the 2008 campaign and in the White House. Fresh out of Duke University, where he’d been captain of the Blue Devils basketball squad, Love joined Team Obama in 2007 and soon became the senator’s personal aide, a role he would keep through the primaries, general election and most of the first term.
In that role (known as “bodyman”), Love spent a lot of time alongside Obama. The two men got to know each other extremely well. Sometimes too well. In a 2007 campaign stop in West Palm Beach, Fla., during a particularly stressful time on the trail, an old friend from college visited Love. “She ended up staying the night,” Love writes in his memoir. The next morning, Love was up and getting ready for the day, but his guest was still in bed. It was then that Obama suddenly let himself into the hotel room, Love explains, using a Secret Service master key. As Love tells it:
I remember the most peremptory of knocks, the sound of his voice talking even as he walked in. … He was charged up, going a mile a minute.
“Hey, Reggie, we need to go over the schedule” – at which point the senator finally noticed my friend in bed, covers pulled to her throat, mortified.
“Oh,” he said. “I apologize.” Then he turned around and hurried out.
“Was that?” she asked, face red.
“Senator Barack Obama,” I said sheepishly.
Some bosses might have pretended it never happened, but not Obama. Later that day, aboard a plane, the candidate was venting to his staff about news coverage and the travails of campaigning, when Love tried to lighten the mood.
I chimed in from the seat behind him. “You know, sir, if it’s any consolation, I’m having the time of my life.”
And the senator said to me, “Well, Reggie, it’s actually not a consolation to me that my campaign for president can help subsidize your love life.”
The remark drew laughter from David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs and others on board. But Love still had a comeback:
“Actually, sir, I got way more action in college.”
A round of groans rose up from the whole staff. If nothing else, I was providing a distraction from the gloom. I’d uncovered another facet to the bodyman role: that of court jester.
Love’s memoir of politics, hoops and coming of age is titled “Power Forward: My Presidential Education” and will be published by Simon and Schuster on Feb. 3. Look for a full review in this space in the coming weeks.
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